Well waddaya know?! The second time we have dined out in as many weeks. This documented trip is testament to how often we eat out, which is a habit we are trying to curb, but with so many excellent restaurants popping up around Bristol, we just can’t help ourselves! Wednesday evening we took a trip down to the deepest darkest corner of the bearpit in search of Mathilda’s chilli bar.
I stumbled upon this rather excellent venue via their twitter page, and with the promise of free beer with every meal on a Wednesday eve, who could resist giving it a go.
Mathilda’s is located in the small area of shops towards the back of the bearpit, nearest to the bus station. I bet you didn’t even know these existed, me either! Well they do. There is a Chinese restaurant visible from the road; this fine chilli bar is directly opposite, underneath, down the stairs.
We were greeted by a very friendly lady and shown to our seat, and immediately presented with a little bucket of popcorn, which lasted all of about 4 minutes. The place itself is a chic and minimalist environment, with what looks like old school tables and chairs, and a pretty sweet salmon pink bathroom suite (I’m pretty jealous, it is rather excellent).
We each got a free can, and ordered two bowls of chilli – half and half for me, all meat for Tom – and some of the pickles with blue cheese sauce. That, as Kevin Bacon would say, is a no brainer.
The chilli was fabulous, big lumps of brisket, homemade guac, and above all, it was god damn SPICY. I like to think I have a pretty high spice tolerance, and it disappoints me when I order spicy dishes from menus and they turn out to be pretty tame. Well this was not one of those occasions. It was hot without comprimising on flavour, and packed with meat and beans.
But the absolute star of the show for me was the deep fried pickles. I have never been to a restaurant where the side has eclipsed the main event, especially when you are talking about a mountain of chilli. But these pickles were so, so good. Even better was the homemade blue cheese dip which was tangy and creamy and really really blue all at once. If I had one criticism it would be that there was not enough of it; I would have quite liked to smother my face in it if I could.
So there you go! If you are travelling in the centre/bearpit/stokes croft area and you fancy a bowlful of comfort and some heavenly gherkins then Mathilda’s is your place.